Van life’s popularity has exploded in recent years. Along with its popularity comes many stories of success and failure. Many times failure is accompanied with troubles with the build that do not adequately meet the needs of modern life. Having electricity is essential and choosing the right batteries to have the power you need is a must! Though you don’t need battery power to live in your van, it can make for a more sustainable and comfortable lifestyle.
If you’re beginning your van life journey, understanding the ins and outs of various batteries can get confusing fast. Expand your understanding as we unpack these helpful questions and answers. Let’s get started!
What Kind of Battery Should I Get for My Camper Van?
Vans are like tiny RV’s and have two power systems, one for the chassis (engine and drivetrain) and a separate one for the house (living part of the van). Its never recommended to try and use the single chassis battery system for your living power needs as you will damage the battery and end up stranded with a van that won’t start eventually. For the rest of this article, we will be discussing the house side of battery power.
The battery type you should get for your camper van has much to do with the degree of power you want. Consider how you live life in your van. As a beginner, you may only want minimal power to turn on lights and charge your phone. If that’s the case, you can get a simple portable power station or solar generator to use as the hub for all your electrical needs. If you have built-in lights, a water pump, and other amenities, however, you are going to need a built-in house battery. The only type of battery worth mentioning anymore for a van build is lithium ion.
High-powered lithium batteries are the most efficient way of providing electricity to your van. Lead acid batteries of the past are just too heavy and dangerous compared to modern lithium. Much of this is because you will probably need to have the batteries installed in your living space. Lead acid batteries like flooded and AGM release toxic fumes when charged and can be dangerous in the small space of a van.
Pro Tip: Feeling confused about the various battery types? Our Beginner’s Guide to RV Batteries can help!
How Big of a Battery Bank Do I Need for a Van?
It depends on how much power you want inside your van. If you’re using a portable power station, you only need one, which will fit inside most storage spaces. Portable power stations come in different sizes, however, and frequently have inverter limitations. Look at the power output of these devices and make sure they can run what you need. If you plan to run a hair dryer, make sure you have one that puts out enough power for you.
As for house battery banks, the size is going to depend heavily on what you want to run and for how long. We have an entire article dedicated to the battery and solar sizing for RVs and the information within will help you determine what size you need. As a general rule of thumb, we have seen that full-time van lifers usually get away with 300 usable amp hours of 12V battery capacity.
Pro Tip: Follow the tips in our article about how much solar you need in you RV to get a better idea of how much battery power you need in your van.
The Best Batteries for Powering Your Van Life
If you want to pass on the deep digging and technical research for the best battery for van life, you’re in luck. We’ve crafted a list of suitable battery solutions for powering your van.
Best Overall Industry Standard: Battle Born Batteries
About: Battle Born batteries are lithium iron phosphate batteries with a more stable and efficient design than traditional AGM or lead acid batteries. Many know the company for its dependable products. All Battle Born batteries come with a ten-year warranty and battery management systems and are designed and assembled in their plant in Reno Nevada.
Sizes/AMP hours: Battle Born offers various batteries. They come in 50, 100, and 270 amp hours and 12 and 24 volts. The most in-demand Battle Born battery is the 100 amp hour, deep cycle drop-in replacement.
Pros: These batteries are more efficient, last longer, and weigh less. They are also low-maintenance batteries. There’s no reason to worry about filling battery cells with water like lead acid batteries, spillage, or excessively high or low voltage issues.
Cons: The most prominent “con” many people mention online is that Battle Born batteries are expensive. However, their batteries seem to be worth the price.
Price Range: You’ll pay between $800 to $1,000 for a Battle Born van battery, depending on the unit.
➔ Discover The Real Reason We Installed Battle Born Lithium Batteries (Again) and find out why these batteries are the industry standard.
Second Best Overall: Dakota Lithium Batteries
About: Dakota Lithium batteries claim to be tough. They state that their durability comes from their rugged North Dakota lifestyle. Their boldest claim is that their batteries have twice the power of traditional batteries, weigh half the weight, charge five times faster, and last four times longer than other batteries on the market.
Sizes/AMP hours: Dakota Lithium batteries come in many forms. You can get 12, 24, 36, and 48-volt batteries from Dakota. You can get a 7 amp hour to a 200 amp hour battery.
- 11 YEAR USA WARRANTY: Dakota Lithium’s batteries were born in...
- BUILT TO LAST: Our LiFePO4 Batteries deliver 2,000+ cycles in...
- SMART ELECTRONICS: All Dakota Lithium Batteries include Battery...
Pros: A Dakota van battery charges fast. They are also quite reliable. One customer review said that he waterlogged his battery, dried it out, and it still worked fine.
Cons: The cost of these batteries is a significant “con.” Also, Dakota batteries don’t come with a charger. You have to purchase one separately.
Price Range: The cost of Dakota batteries runs from $69 for a 12 volt, 7 amp hour battery to $1,699 for a 12 volt, 200 amp hour battery.
Lightest Option: Lion Energy Lion Safari UT
Sizes/AMP hours: Lion Energy batteries come in 12 volts, 105 amp hours, 56 amp hours, and 20 amp hours.
- [LAST LONGER] – 10 year warranty
- [MAINTENANCE FREE] – Retains charge up to 2 years, no trickle...
- [FAST CHARGING AND LIGHTWEIGHT] – 15% faster charging with...
Pros: The company produces batteries that are smaller, more powerful, and lighter than most similar batteries on the market. Also, the UT1300 model will get closer to 5,000 life cycles when you use it conservatively.
Cons: A popular YouTuber reviewed the UT1200 version of Lion Energy’s lithium battery and found that it only got 90 amp hours instead of the advertised 100 amp hours. The company has fixed the problem now, but there’s still a stain on its reputation.
Price Range: Their three lithium batteries run from $203.15 to $849.15. Those are sale prices, but you can typically find sales easily.
Most Budget-Friendly: Zooms/Redodo LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Lithium Battery
About: Zooms branding has recently undergone a makeover. The new branding has the same color scheme with a different name. Zoom is now Redodo.
Sizes/AMP hours: The company sells 12 volt, 50, 100, 200, and 300 amp hour batteries. The “Plus” distinction means the battery is small and more compact.
- 【Long Life & Deep Cycle】Redodo Lithium Iron Phosphate...
- 【Advanced Technology】Redodo LiFePO4 battery possesses...
- 【Slow Power Loss】Redodo LiFePO4 battery have high energy...
Pros: The biggest perk of buying a Zoom or Redodo van battery is the price. They’re affordable and cost less than other batteries on the market.
Cons: There is no low-temperature charging protection. The battery has thermal switches but no temperature sensors. It’s challenging to get into the battery cover if you want to inspect the inner workings.
Price Range: The 200 amp hour battery from Zooms/Redodo will cost you around $700, a deal compared to similar batteries on the market. You get medium quality for a fantastic price with this battery.
How Much Power Do You Need for Van Life?
The answer to the question depends on your setup. You’ll need to take an energy audit to figure out how much power you need to keep everything running smoothly. Which devices will you power? How long will you typically require them to operate? Calculating your energy use will help you get a clear look at the situation.
Should a Van Battery Be a Priority for Van Life?
Having battery power inside your van is essential, especially if you plan to camp off-grid. It’s also beneficial if you plan to live in your van full-time. It’s safe to say that a quality van battery should be a priority for van life, and any one of the brands listed above will meet your needs.
Temperature matters when choosing a battery. If you’re primarily camping in the heat of summer, make sure you understand How Lithium Batteries Fare in Hot Temperatures.
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